Be Light and Healthy

Good, Better, Best Choices

Posted on: December 5, 2010

“We must not, in trying to think about how we can make a big difference, ignore the small daily differences we can make which, over time, add up to big differences that we often cannot foresee.”  Marian Wright Edelman

As we wade deeper into the holiday season and the demands we place upon ourselves mount, it’s easy to overlook our healthy intentions.  By continuing to incorporate small changes into our lives, we can improve our health in the short-term and transform our lives in the long-term.  Unhealthy habits weren’t acquired overnight.  They are deeply integrated into our lives over time and may have originated in childhood.  We are often unconscious of the many aspects of our lives that have become subtly interwoven into the daily choices we make.  Awareness and acceptance of my negative habits combined with a desire to replace them with positive ones were the first steps in my transformational journey to good health.    

Everyone is starting at a different place in regards to their health.  In fact there are many people who are not overweight but aren’t eating healthy.  Consequently, they lack energy and use artificial stimulants such as sugar and caffeine to give them a boost when they hit the wall during the day.  Because our bodies are constantly changing, being aware of how we feel, the amount of energy we have, and the amount of sleep we require can serve as indicators that it may be time to try some small changes to optimize our health.  Just as one method of healthy living will not work for everyone, the same method may not work best throughout your entire life.  What worked for you when you were 20 years old will probably not allow you to function optimally when you hit 40 or 60.  Wherever you are on your journey towards healthy living, congratulate yourself for being aware of where you are and having the desire to improve your life. 

When I started making small changes in my life, I discovered that using guidelines not rules worked best for me.  Making unrealistic demands on myself and striving for perfection in my previous attempts to lose weight had inevitably resulted in failure.  When I was unable to live up to my unrealistic goals, I would focus on my shortcomings, which resulted in a cacophony of voices in my head constantly berating me.  My negative thoughts would plunge me into a downward spiral.  Abandoning exercise, eating junk food, and bingeing would re-ignite the negative aspects of the unhealthy cycle I was living.

I’ve come to believe in following guidelines not rules.  Rules are rigid whereas guidelines provide flexibility and alternatives.  I was raised to follow rules and am quite fond of them.  When I broke a rule, I was typically riddled with guilt and had trouble letting go of my perceived failure.  Guidelines encompass a spectrum of choices, and  I’ve learned to categorize my choices as good, better, or best. 

When my unhealthy lifestyle was deeply embedded in my existence, I would often have a large hot fudge sundae for supper if I was eating alone.  I never gave it a second thought.  Once I became aware of this unhealthy habit, I began to pause and consider making a different choice.  I would think to myself, “Well, a small hot fudge sundae would be a good choice; a bagel and cream cheese would be a better choice; a salad would be the best choice.”  In this case the good, better, and best choices were all an improvement on my previously unconscious choice of a large hot fudge sundae.  By selecting one of the three alternative options, I made a healthier choice.  I always congratulated myself no matter which of the selections I made and never berated myself for not selecting the best option.  Yes, a small hot fudge sundae was still an unhealthy choice; however, it was a better choice than a large hot fudge sundae.  This was a small, painless change that left me feeling in control and allowed me to ease into a new lifestyle and gain confidence making healthy choicesI was treating myself kindly, which enabled me to focus on each small improvement and build momentum.  Over time my good, better, best selections naturally became healthier.  As evidence of the progress I made, I eventually used this decision-making process when choosing vegetables.  I believe that fresh vegetables are the best choice; however, sometimes I don’t have them readily available.  Sometimes I go with the better choice of frozen vegetables or the good choice of canned vegetables.  Any of these three choices is better than not eating vegetables. 

This technique also helped me when I started incorporating exercise into my life.  I would think to myself, “Well, a good choice would be to walk 5 minutes; a better choice would be to walk 15 minutes; the best choice would be to walk 30 minutes.”  Again, no matter which choice I made, it was better than foregoing walking.  I consistently congratulated myself for these small improvements, and the positive energy in my life increased. 

I invite you to try incorporating “good, better, best” decision making into your life.  Choosing from a spectrum of choices will enable you to feel successful and accomplish small goals.  Though you may not initially see them, the small changes you continue to make in your daily routine during the holiday season will eventually add up to big differences.  Whether it’s exercising, meditating, eating more vegetables, or chewing your food better, this technique will help you transition to a healthier lifestyle.  In addition, I invite you to sign up for weekly e-mail updates to get informed and inspired to Be Light and Healthy. 

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